Behind the scenes of popular commercial

By From page B1 | July 26, 2013

The popular Dr Pepper Ten Mountain Man commercial was shot in El Dorado County. Its carefree portrayal of guys having fun is very different from all the work it took to produce the attention-getting advertisement that is a throwback to earlier television ads.

From finding the perfect place to film the commercial to organizing the entire project was a team effort of many individuals and agencies.

The good news — the perfect stretch of the American river was found at the 11th hour.

The bad news — Director Stacy Wall had exactly one week to get owner consent, permits, equipment, props, crew, actors, action and clean-up.

Wall’s effort is a story of stunning teamwork. Cooperation between the county, the water agency, sub-contractors and vendors was smooth and proactive.

Wall’s Imperial Woodpecker company was producing the Dr Pepper Ten commercial for Deutsch Creative LA.

Landing the stretch of paradise in the commercial proved the first hurdle. The owner, a senior citizen, had a penchant for hanging up on property inquiries.

After a number of communication attempts, Kathleen Dodge, El Dorado County Film Commissioner, helped by researching other family members. Proper communication was established and a deal was struck to everyone’s satisfaction.

In short order four loaded semis pushed up Highway 50, past Placerville and Pollock Pines to Ice House Road. With no margin for error, 70 crew members began unpacking the portable filming factory.

They carried the pieces down the steep trail onto the stony river beach. The grips, gaffes, electricians, and laborers brought cranes, cameras, props and infrastructure.

The transformation happened with precision and speed considering nature’s push-back and the fact that digital cameras were forbidden. By design, the whole commercial had to be shot with 16mm film, just the way the Hamm’s Beer and Old Spice commercials were done in the ’70s and ’80s.

The river shoot took a day and a half, ditto for the nearby lake. The crew packed up and left both locations better than they found them.

Several things stand improved since the shoot — the property owners, the popularity of the 16mm camera, Deutsch LA and their client Dr Pepper, all better off since February.

Web users have downloaded the mountain man commercial nearly a million times. To see it go to

El Dorado Irrigation District Parks and Recreation Supervisor Cheri Jaggers, a critical link in the production triumph, praised Imperial Woodpecker.

“They went out of their way to be good citizens, treated everyone with patience and respect and cleaned up beautifully. The property owners are thrilled, and the company is welcome back anytime,” Jaggers said.

Peter Tyner

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